A large bed in a hotel room

Best Inexpensive: Towels, Sheets, Mattress Pad, Down Comforter

In my lifetime, I have spent way too much in an attempt to furnish bedrooms and baths with high-quality towels and bedding. What I have discovered through a lot of trial and error is that the price does not always guarantee great results.

towels linens on a beautiful bedBath towels on the bed of bedroom

Today I want to tell you about my updated picks for the Best Inexpensive bath towels, sheets, mattress pads, and down comforters.


I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that when it comes to towels, my husband and I are picky. They can’t be too thin, but not too thick either. Towels need to be highly absorbent, 100% cotton. We’re not into bath sheets, preferring our bath towels to be somewhere around 30” x 56.” They need to be soft but not too soft, so as not to give an invigorating rub down following a hot shower.

I want towels that launder well—able to handle hot wash, vinegar rinse, and a high-temperature dry with wool dryer balls.


Never launder towels using softening products in the washer or dry sheets in the dryer. To do so will eventually eliminate those bath linens’ absorbency. Using too much detergent will leave these linens stiff. The secret is to use only a small amount of detergent in hot water then use wool dryer balls in the dryer.

Best Inexpensive: JCPenneys Liz Claiborne Luxury Egyptian Hygrocotton Loops Bath Towels hand towels, and washcloths. These towels come singly or in sets and in a choice of colors, including white. At this writing the 6-piece towel set: $44 with coupon code FRIENDS4.

Best Overall: Lands’ End Supima Cotton Towel 6-piece Set. Rare supima cotton, combed for added softness; big, thick, thirsty, and ultra-soft that stay that way for many years, wash after wash.

Mattress Pad

Don’t be surprised when I tell you I am picky when it comes to mattress pads. I want them to fit well, like a fitted sheet with elastic all the way around that hugs the mattress tightly—and can accommodate a deep mattress plus a topper, if that ever becomes necessary. It needs to be soft and quilted to hold the filling in place so it doesn’t get all bunchy.

After a few expensive disappointments, I’ve discovered the mattress pad that fills the bill well at an inexpensive price.

Best Inexpensive: Hanna Kay Extra-Deep Hypoallergenic Quilted Mattress Pads are fabulous and come with a 10-year warranty. I have these on the beds in our home. Our guests routinely compliment us on the very comfortable beds and how well they sleep here. Twin ; Queen; King.

NOTE: I launder these mattress pads in hot water, but dry them on low. Dryer Heat has a way of destroying the elasticity, which is what makes these pads fit so well.

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Great sheets plus a great mattress pad and luxury down comforter come together to offer wonderful, restful sleep!

Best Inexpensive: A good, low-priced option is JCPenney Home 300tc Cotton Sheet Set. These 100% cotton sheets are nice, fit up to 17-inch depth mattress and get softer every time they are laundered. They’re smooth and not noisy. However, they will come out of the dryer quite wrinkled. To overcome this: Do not dry fully. Take them from the dryer still slightly damp, then hang or fold while smoothing out the wrinkles. Currently a queen set: $42 with code FRIENDS4.

Best Overall: Liz Claiborne 600tc 100% Cotton Sateen Sheet Set is my pick for the Best Inexpensive luxury, bedsheets. These sheets have a velvety, soft hand, which helps to make them wrinkle-resistant. The fitted sheet has elastic all the way around to create a tight fit on mattresses of multiple depths up to 18-inches.

These sheets are smooth, luxurious; not noisy, rough, or any other negative thing on my list of cannot-tolerates. They launder beautifully in hot water and come out of the dryer nearly wrinkle-free. I usually touch them up with the iron, but honestly, I may stop doing that. Currently a queen set: $63 with code FRIENDS4.


Down comforters are not that easy to find these days since the invention of  manmade “alternative down.”

For the real deal, Pacific Coast makes the best down comforters, in my opinion, and they do this right in the USA. Over the years, I’ve tested several weights and find that we prefer the lightweight 300 thread count 550 Fill Power option. This comforter is heavenly. It’s sewn through in a box construction so the down stays put. It doesn’t bunch up at the bottom, and the fuzzy little feathers cannot escape, either. Beautiful construction!

The nature of authentic, real down is that it keeps you cool in the summer, warm in the winter. Ahhh … pure luxury.

Best Inexpensive Down: Pacific Coast Light Weight Comforter 300 Thread Count 550 Fill Power Down: TwinFull/Queen; King.

Best Inexpensive Alternative: Linenspa All Season White Down Alternative Quilted Comforter. This comforter has both a soft microfiber cover and microfiber alternative down fill, which means it is hypoallergenic. Use it with a duvet cover, or as a standalone comforter. Remarkably, available in 8 sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, Oversized Queen, King, Cal King, Oversized King. 

Revised & Updated for 2020


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16 replies
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  1. Cludia says:

    Can you recommend a good waterproof mattress cover? We are running into incontinence issues with a dementia patient.

  2. Tracy Lang says:

    I bought the Land’s Ends towels a year ago after a bathroom remodel. I find them overly thick & subject to a lot of snags, Someone asked about flannel sheets – I’ve got 2 sets from JC Penney & they’re great!

  3. Nancy says:

    I am looking for towels that have a velour finish on one side and flat on the other. After 47 yrs of use, they are still like new with no snags at all. Other towels I buy get full of snags. Unfortunately, the tags are worn off and it was a wedding gift so I don’t know where to buy. Do your two recommendations for towels get snags or are like a velour finish which is soft too?

  4. Barb Sherwood says:

    I’ve never washed colored towels in hot water as I was afraid it would dull the colors. Also sheets in hot water, I was afraid they’d shrink. Is it really ok to wash in hot water instead of warm? Thanks for all your great advice!

  5. Katie French says:

    Seriously Mary, On your recommendation (because you have NEVER steered me wrong) I bought the JCPenney Home 300tc Cotton Sheets and they are unquestionably the most DELICIOUS sheets I have ever slept on; absolute luxury. Of course, you were right about the crazy good coupon on the website, bringing my total down by $39! I went back a few months later to buy another set and, to my disappointment, they no longer carry split king size.

    Do you happen to use flannel sheets now in the chilly, Colorado winters? If so, do you have a recommendation?

  6. Rea says:

    I need a queen size fitted sheet and pillow cases, but we use King sized flat sheets and blankets. Totally gets rid of the problem of your spouse (or you!) hogging all the blankets. These sheets only come in sets, not separates. Do you have a source for finding good bedding that doesn’t come in a set? It’s not helpful if I have to buy sets of both and not use half of each.

  7. Gina Stevens says:

    Upon your recommendation, I got the Land’s End supima cotton towels and the Liz Claiborne 600tc 100% Cotton Sateen Sheet Set. I bought them both nearly two years ago and after weekly washings both are like new. Thanks, Mary.

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